by Andrew E. Bailey, Dene T. Carter, Alan Craddock
Firebird Software Ltd
Crash Issue 35, Dec 1986   page(s) 146,147

Producer: Firebird
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Andrew E. Bailey, Dean Carter

Four skulls of immense evil have been brought together by the evil Princes of Darkness and placed in a tower. Gathered in the same location, their power to spread destruction, plague and dereliction is vastly amplified and the land is suffering. You, an aging mystical Druid, must destroy the evil skulls to thwart the Princes of Darkness.

The skulls reside in lower levels of an eight-level tower and the game begins in the fields surrounding the skulls' new resting place. You must penetrate the tower, defeat the demons, destroy the skulls and make good your escape.

The action is viewed from above and the flip screens that make up each level contain walls, or hedges in the open country, which combine to make up a maze of passageways. Demons scurry round the screens and need to be eliminated rapidly - contact with them saps the magician's energy and the longer he stays in one place the more demons turn up.

The Druid can move in four directions and can cast Water, Fire or Electricity spells with a press of the fire button - toggle between them with the P key. Each time a spell is cast the Druid's capacity for casting that particular spell reduces, and the counter under the respective icon decrements. Selecting the appropriate spell for the type of demon being attacked is an important factor of the game.

Apart from the workaday fire-button-controlled spells, the Old One has four powerful spells at his command. Providing the inventory contains a supply of the appropriate spell material, these extra spells can be invoked with a press of the correct number key. The Key Spell opens doors; the Invisibility Spell hides the hero from the gaze of the demons for a while and temporarily immobilises them; the Golem Spell conjures up an assistant, and the Chaos Spell is a magical smart bomb that destroys all the nasties on the current screen. The Chaos Spell is the only spell powerful enough to destroy one of the skulls and has the pleasant side-effect of topping up the Druid's energy whenever it is cast.

Energy is added to the Druid's status bar when he stands on one of the Pentacles of Life that are scattered around the tower. Chests are a source of useful spellpower - all the Druid has to do is walk up to a chest and it will open to reveal its contents. Careful thought is needed before selecting an item from a chest, however, as the Princes of Darkness sense that one of their store cupboards has been opened the moment something is removed and destroy the chest and its remaining contents instantly.

If things are getting a bit hectic, casting a Golem Spell invokes a handy acolyte. The Golem can either be controlled by a second player or by separate keyboard commands and it really comes into its own as a bodyguard. Your assistant can be given three commands: send, follow and wait, and has its own Energy bar that is reduced by contact with nasties. On the plus side, the touch of a Golem is instantly fatal to demons!

To play the game efficiently, care must be taken to select the right object from chests once they are opened. A map will prove essential if you are to stand any chance of achieving the legendary Light Master status - at the end of a game, one of sixteen rankings available is awarded, and they start with Halfwit...


Control keys: 1 cast Key Spell, 2 cast Invisibility Spell, 3 cast Golem Spell, A control Golem, H and A control Golem separately from joystick, 4 cast Chaos Spell; Z left, X right, K up, M down, SPACE fire, P toggle Water, Fire and Electricity spells
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: neat, and without attribute problems
Graphics: fairly large and well detailed, with neat shading effects
Sound: spot effects only
Skill levels: one
Screens: large eight-level play area

Druid is amazingly good, and very easy to get into. The layout of the screen is excellent, giving a good mix of large characters and lots of colour - without any attribute problems at all! The game is smooth to play and contains loads of big, bad baddies. I like the way you can swap easily between different types of spell casting, and also the way you go around picking up different things from chests. This game is extremely addictive, loads of fun to play and quite different from your average 'run of the mill' arcade/adventure.

Is this the start of a flood of variants inspired by the arcade game Gauntlet? If the rest are as brilliant as this, then we're all in for a good time. The gameplay is great - your Druid is easy to control, so whizzing around the place is great fun, although it is very hard to get anywhere as the rampaging nasties gang up quickly and tend to kill you off rapidly. After a lot of play, however, dealing with them becomes slightly easier. Graphically, Druid is presented well: the characters shuffle around smoothly and the playing area is highly detailed, with excellent shading. The sound is a little disappointing when compared to the graphics, but it is adequate. I strongly recommend Druid as it is playable and ever so compelling.

Oh yes. This game is superb, one of the best I've honoured my Spectrum with in a long time. Graphics are excellent, with lots of colour used over the various levels, and as far as playability is concerned, well, Druid is something else! Comparison with Gauntlet is, I suppose, unavoidable, but I would certainly like to see US Gold come out with a better game than this - that'll take some doing! Everything about Druid is excellent: it's one of my fave games of the moment. And it's incredibly addictive too; if I didn't have to write this comment, I'd still be playing it. 'Nuff said?.

Use of computer: 87%
Graphics: 91%
Playability: 90%
Getting Started: 88%
Addictive qualities: 90%
Value For Money: 88%
Overall: 90%

Summary: General rating: A compelling demon-bashing game.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 12, Dec 1986   page(s) 68


An owl calls in the night. The mistletoe twines around an old oak in the clearing. Suddenly a prolonged shriek cuts the Celtic mist! Rachael is loading her Spectrum again!

While we're all currently gaunt-less, everyone is throwing down the gauntlet and producing multi-player games. Everyone, it seems, except Firebird who doesn't appear to think that we Spectral types have friends. But more of that in a minute. Meanwhile, back in the clearing.

Dressed in her white robes, bewitching Rachael takes charge of Dafyd the daffy Druid and guides him through the labyrinthine woods in search of mystic caskets. A-maze-d at the fact that the trees form such sharply defined passages, there's little time to think as ghosts, ghouls and crawlies of the creepiest kind bamboozle our bearded bard.

Luckily our holy man is armed with an arsenal of elemental spells. This is a real pain in the arsenal for the supernaturals who can only hover around sapping strength and getting zapped.

But it takes a little science to survive as a druid. Some spells are better suited to certain foes than others, so if you don't want to waste time and energy, find out what swots what.

Our be-robed Rambo doesn't pack an endless supply of magic either, but by searching out a well-slacked chest he can replenish his three missile spells or stock up on specialities, such as Key or Chaos.

This is where the second player comes in. One spell is for Golem, a big dumb wandering brute who acts as reminder to our hero. Big and dumb... oi, Gwyn, cm'ere! But hang on... the two player option isn't available on the Spectrum. You can only control Golem in the auto mode, with Wait, Follow and Send commands. Better Send boyo away and struggle on.

Nope, it just doesn't work! I've seen this on the Amstrad and it's a lot of fun with a friend bopping the beasties, but playing with yourself just isn't as satisfying. For one thing, you've not got time to order Golem into a suitably offensive position. It's all rather Gauntlet... but without the - let.

Quite why Firebird failed to include the two player option I have no idea. Perhaps now it's seen that the Plus Two includes two joystick ports it'll think about updating it. Because until it does, I don't wish to be ruid, but Druid lacks any sort of magic.

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 6/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 43, Aug 1987   page(s) 40,41

Issue 35 (December 1986) Page 146

RICKY: Druid was the first successful go at a Gauntlet game, earning itself a CRASH Smash in the Christmas Special last year. The game centres on a druid with the pretty horrendous task of killing off the Princess Of Darkness and her evil minions.

The programmers, Andy Bailey and Dean Carter, included three different forms of weapons that the druid can access: water, fire and electricity. Scattered around the playing area are chests containing magic spells which boost the druid's powers.

There are eight levels of frantic action, and a neat little twist in two-player mode: one player takes control of the Golem, an apelike beast who simply kills off the druid's foes.

The graphical representation of the many characters is good, mainly in black; however, the colourful backdrops add spice to the scenery. The informative status panel gives Druid an advantage over the other Gauntlet games.

Of all the Gaunt let clones, this one certainly stands out as both a good adaptation of a theme and an enjoyable game in its own right.

ROBIN: This was one of the first Gauntlet-type games available, and it was highly rated in CRASH. The main difference between Druid and Gauntlet is the spell-casting (later reproduced in Ranarama), a novel feature. Graphically it's excellent, but the sound is a little disappointing. Highly playable and addictive, it's certainly one of the better clones around.

Then: 90%
Now: 88%

Overall: 88%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 56, Nov 1986   page(s) 42,43

Label: Firebird
Author: Dean Carter, Andrew Bailey
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. This game is not Gauntlet. It has no connection with Gauntlet and just because the whole look of the game and gameplay is somewhat Gauntletesque I wouldn't want you to come away from this review with the impression. Hope that's clear.

Druid is a swords and sorcery arcade game in which you rush about killing hundreds of assorted ghouls using one of three spells. You open magic chests to discover spellpower, cast various special spells and use keys to open doors. Travel from level to level via flights of stairs and the whole thing is presented top-down with a vast fantasy landscape scrolling behind you.

The curious thing about Druid is that the first screen is all shrubbery - trees hedges: for a few moments you may be mistaken into believing it was not really all that much like the big G at all. However, as soon as you hit the second level - which looks like some sort of ancient Greek temple and is full of mythical busts and such - bells of familiarity start to be rung. This couldn't be deliberate could it? I mean they wouldn't try to hide in the shrubbery the fact this is a bit like G would they?

I completed the first level without too much trouble. You'll need to discover quickly the location of the first door key (needed at the beginning of the second level), the exit stairs and the position of a handy regeneration pad.

You'll also need to discover what spell works best on what creature and learn to switch between spells quickly and remember to keep them all topped up.

Druid looks good. The backgrounds aren't quite two-colour but have been carefully designed so that for attribute clash-purposes two colours are mostly all that is involved. Consequently, although the sprites are at times a little indistinct there are no real vomit-inducing colour flicker moments.

I made it to level three within an hour or so and soon realised that there is far more to the game than mere blasting (sorry spell casting). The keys are vital. Sometimes a chest which appears to contain some wonderful goodies like gigantic charges for spells in fact contains something far more vital, ie your way into the next level.

There are smart bombs (called Chaos spells), a special invisibility spell that causes the assembled warlocks, fiends, trolls, spooks (and less easily described denizens of the dark) to stand still for a few moments whilst you make a getaway.

More unusual is the Golem spell which conjures up a golem - an unearthly being that looks sort of like a bouncer from the Hippodrome and performs a similar sort of function - it keeps the insalubrious elements (and elementals) away by stomping into them.

Druids is devilishly addictive. I had to be dragged screaming to my typewriter to actually get around to writing about the damn thing. It captures a good deal of The Other Game and it will sell in huge quantities unless the legal boys start to get nasty.

Overall: 5/5

Summary: Frenzied, spell bashing, otherworldly mythological violence on a grand scale. A bit reminiscent of Gauntlet in fact.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 8, May 1988   page(s) 71

Spectrum, £7.95cs
Amstrad, £8.95cs, £12.95dk
C64/128, £7.95cs

Best of the Gauntlet derivatives as the druid copes with the forces of evil. In both games the druid is equipped with a number of spells for zapping enemies or causing other effects. In the original game one of the spells creates a sidekick called Golem - the second player.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 32, Dec 1986   page(s) 53



I'm told by those in the habit of frequenting such places that Druid is based on that arcade game of the moment, Gauntlet (though the official version of Gauntlet is being produced by US Gold). I've not played Gauntlet myself, but I did find Druid enjoyable, if a little frustrating.

In the game you control the figure of a plump little Druid (who obviously spends too much time lying around between solstices) who has been saddled with the task of destroying four skulls, created by the Princes of Darkness and hidden in the depths of a dismal tower. The tower is guarded, as towers tend to be, by all manner of ghosts and water beetles (?).

Your druid has a number of spells at his command, and different spells are effective against each of the monsters that will come at you in hordes and try to drain your life energy. The main offensive spells are Fire, Water and Electricity, though there are also spells for opening doors and invisibility. You only have a limited number of spells and of life energy, but if you can find the magical chests and pentagrams that are scattered around each level you can recharge your supples.

On each level there is a set of stairs leading up/down to the next level, and the skulls that you are looking for are hidden away in the lower four of the tower's eight levels, so you've got a lot of monster-blasting in store.

One of the more interesting spells that you can call upon is the Golem spell. When cast you suddenly find that you're accompanied by the lumbering figure of a golem, whose movement can be controlled either by the druid or by a second player (special guest appearance by John Smith from next door). The golem acts as a sort of mystical quarterback, running interference and generally flattening the opposition before they can drain your druid, but his own energy is also limited so he has a limited lifetime and then you're on your own again.

You are given an overhead view of each level, and the screen switches rapidly from section to section of the maze as you move around. Being set in a maze, it's the kind of game that lends itself to large block-graphics and these have been done quite well, though they're not particularly spectacular.

The animation is smooth, despite the rather lumpy sprites, which is important because the game is basically a fast-reflex shoot 'em up. There is some element of judgment involved in your choice of spells and the use you make of the golem, but underneath the druid s habit lurks a medieval commando, despatching ghosts and ghoulies with all the gusto of a Rambo.

It's quite good fun, and the exploration of the levels in search of spells and skulls adds a bit of variety to the mystical mayhem. I found that the druid's lifeforce tended to get drained a bit too quickly, leading to a lot of not terribly long games, but though it's reasonably addictive I shan't be rushing to the arcades to join the rest of the Gauntleters.

Overall: Great

Award: ZX Computing Globella

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 11, Nov 1986   page(s) 47


If the thought of waiting almost two months to buy the official version of Gauntlet is too much for you, the latest release from Firebird might be just the medicine you need. Although not so close as to attract the wrath of Atari, it still maintains the immense playability, as well as some more obvious features, of the original arcade machine.

Using a multi-directional scrolling screen, Druid combines a true arcade feel with an atmosphere not dissimilar from the early Dungeons and Dragons board games. The object is to travel through various levels, reaching the exit, and using the keys you have collected to complete the game.

Although unlike the original Gauntlet, no more than one player can play a whole game. At certain points the player can pick up an object called a Golem. He acts as a defensive helper who, although he is unable to fire, can kill any baddies by walking through them. If you have a friend, he can control the Golem but, even on your own the Golem can prove extremely useful.

Other objects which can be collected include Chaos, which acts in the same way as a smart bomb would. Invisibility - an extra firepower for each of the three weapons you use - water, fire, and electricity. The length of your game depends on making the most of the energy with which you are supplied, or getting to the five-pointed star which re-vitalises your energy.

Perhaps surprisingly the Amstrad version is as good, if not a little better than the Commodore version, with the graphics being exquisite. All the levels I have managed to see - getting past level three proved to be almost impossible - are of equal quality, with excellent definition of all the backgrounds.

One thing to look for on both Commodore and Amstrad versions are the amazing loading screens. Originally done by ace 64 artist Bob Stevenson, the Amstrad version has a very creditable look-alike done by the game's programmer.

Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4/5
Playability: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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